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A Place LIke This: Finding Myself in a Cape Cod Cottage

Adult; Memoir; (Market)

When newly engaged Sally Buffington is introduced to Craigville, she meets an expansive Cape Cod cottage that is virtually a family member itself. She quickly finds herself competing for airtime among the talkative, assured band of brothers and her new mother-in-law,the cottage's lively and confounding matriarch.

Sally,a Cape Cod local, soon wonders how she'll ever maintain her independence, let alone her sense of self, when the day's anenda and every detal is already set in stone. But she navigates her new life with quiet persistence and a boundless curiosity that guides her to explore life thorugh the creative lens of her camera and her pen.

Sally writes with a whimsical candor that is both honest and humorous. Through poetic prose and heartfelt reflection, A Place Like This reveals the beauty of Cape Cod and shows us that the simplest of moments bring us the most lasting joy.

Musician, writer, and photographer Buffington’s enchanting debut contemplates how her in-laws’ summer cottage on Cape Cod, lovingly called “Craigville,” fostered her creative interest in writing and photography, and how houses come to figure into “the landscape of our hearts and minds.” In January 1968, her fiancé, Andy, introduces her to Craigville, the winter air “as cold as the water of baptism.” Later she forges her own space in a cottage crowded with three generations of Buffingtons: parents, Jim Jr. “Dad” and Lois “Mom” Buffington; sons, Jim, Pete, and Andy; and Jim’s wife, Judy, and their children.

This warm celebration is not without some minor conflict. Mom runs Craigville as “CDO: Chief Domestic Officer” with an attitude of “Stick to what you were trained for” and “the way we’ve always done it,” dismissing Buffington’s burgeoning creative passions and desire to “learn this place for itself, and for myself.” The three Buffington brothers are “The Broze: a group of quirky, talkative guys,” able to cover nine different topics in one conversation; while Buffington is charmed, some readers may be disenchanted by the thought Broze dominating conversation and Craigville. However, humor and Mom’s classic blueberry pies temper the sometimes-oppressive atmosphere. Midlife readers will identify with Buffington’s pursuit of “cottage independence,” freedom from Mom’s established routine and control, and a desk in a quiet spot at which to write; readers may even be able to taste the “pungent wild fruit whose spicy fragrance perfumed the kitchen during baking.”

Simple yet captivating photos of the family, cottage, and memories, such as a toy monkey hanging from a light, appear throughout the narrative, demonstrating how Buffington can “see things other people don’t see” in everyday scenes and find them beautiful. But her prose is where that ability most shines through. This memoir paints a vivid and lasting memory of a home with as much personality as the family who lived there.

Takeaway: Midlife readers and those interested in homes passed down through generations will enjoy this memoir of a classic Cape Cod cottage.

Great for fans of: Joan Anderson’s A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman, Erika Montgomery’s A Summer to Remember.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B+